Russia's Putin threatens to sack officials over social spending

Russia's Putin threatens to sack officials over social spending

MOSCOW - Reuters
Russias Putin threatens to sack officials over social spending

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting to discuss the dismal state of Russia's housing during his visit to Elista, the capital of the southern Russian Kalmykia region, on April 16. AFP photo

President Vladimir Putin threatened to sack senior officials over a failure to carry out his orders on social spending in a warning to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's government.

Unofficial video footage released on April 17 showed Putin berating officials at a meeting on housing attended by several ministers including Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.

In the footage, published online shortly before Medvedev started a speech to parliament on the economy, Putin called for more action to fulfil his pledges on social spending intended to improve the lives of millions of Russians.

"If we don't do it, we will need to acknowledge that either I work inefficiently or you work badly and you will need to resign," he was seen telling Tuesday's meeting in the southern town of Elista. 

"I would like to draw your attention to the fact that I am currently inclined towards the second scenario," he said. "I don't want any misunderstandings and I want us to talk honestly."

The comments were made after the president requested cameras be turned off at the meeting, but the video appeared on the website which has close ties to the Kremlin.

The remarks follow months of speculation that Putin's relations with Medvedev are strained and that the prime minister might be dismissed. Government and Kremlin officials have dismissed the speculation.